For the past few weeks, I’ve been chewing on the idea of deleting my personal Facebook account (or doing the closest thing to that, since apparently it’s pretty difficult to actually delete it).

Here are the ways in which I think I might benefit from deleting my account:

  • More time! Facebook is a total procrastination tool.
  • A clearer head. Five minutes of scanning the newsfeed sends my brain in 12 different directions.
  • Lower blood pressure. The political content on Facebook often makes my blood boil. I don’t need that!
  • I think I might actually get smarter. Honestly, there’s not a lot ofnews on Facebook, though there’s a lot of opinion. There are editorials, blogs, memes, Reddit threads, niche articles/conspiracy theories disguised as mainstream news, stories that assert truths without any citations, and long threaded comment sections.  I’m realizing that this steady diet of unsupported claims does a lot of things—it feeds my own biases, and sets off my injustice alarms—but it doesn’t actually help me learn anything. It might actually be making me less informed. I think a side effect of quitting Facebook might be having time to read more actual news.
  • The pleasure of opting out. It would feel good to know that I’m not a product being sold to advertisers. (Realistically, for that, I’d have to opt out of many more sites as well.)

I can feel myself getting ready to opt out, but I’m not there yet. I’m making baby steps. I pruned the list of people I follow. I started limiting my experience to one day a week, and even then for only 20 minutes. I’m being very particular about what I choose to click on. I think eventually I may be ready to cut the cord.

In the meantime, I need to replace the best things about Facebook, which for me, boil down to three things:

  1. seeing photos and news about family and friends who don’t live in the same place as me
  2. having a place to express some of the ideas that are important to me, and forcing myself to work those ideas out
  3. comment threads amongst my funniest friends (the puns!)

So for replacing those things, I’ve got a few alternatives in mind:

  1. A group of friends recently started a virtual writing circle. We’ll meet regularly to catch up on life news and support each other’s various writing projects. I’d like to schedule similar catch-up time with other groups of faraway friends and family.
  2. I’m going to start journaling again! I used to do that, and I miss it. I think it builds happiness.
  3. I’m starting a weekly email chain for my Friends Who Like Wordplay. The puns will go on.

Have you opted out of Facebook, either because you never started or because you tried it and quit? Or have you ever considered leaving it? Share your stories in the comments!

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